Nothing should come between a man and his boat. I thought about this a lot lately and it had bothered me. My beloved Boston Whaler Outrage with the Honda 130 four stroke on the back sat in my backyard for weeks while I stressed about what to do about it. It had ran strong all summer last year but this year started leaning out sporadically. I would be cruising and all of a sudden the engine would begin hesitating and I’d immediately have to throttle down before it stalled. I changed every single hose, filter etc that I could do on my own and then finally had to take it into the dealership.
The mechanic ran a few tests and it looked like I might have a cracked block, the engine was failing the leak down compression test. This was going to be very bad news because a new engine was going to run me 10k and my wife wasn’t too happy about that. We tried a few things and then I took it back to the mechanic again, he made a few changes and then I took it for a test run, the boat ran fine for five minutes and then the problems came back again. On pretty much every type of engine the majority of the problems come down to fuel or spark. I knew I was getting spark so I did a few tests on the water and figured that the motor wasn’t getting fuel. I talked to some of the techs at marineengine.com, Mike is the honda guru on that site and we thought it seemed like there was a problem with the low pressure fuel pump so I ordered one. When the new pump came in I swapped it out and immediately noticed that the old pump had some rust on the plunger part and that it wasn’t moving correctly. With the new pump installed I was ready for a sea trial.
After trying vacuum tests, pressure tests, changing parts it turned out that the low pressure pump was faulty. This is the oem one and is held on by two bolts, not a big deal except that lower bolt is a bitch to get to
After backing down my truck on the launch ramp I climbed aboard, gave the fuel bulb a few pumps and clicked the key on. C-level roared to life, I gingerly backed her down the trailer and tied her to the dock and ran back and parked the truck. As I gingerly increased the throttle I kept an eye out on the tach, the needle kept climbing and in no time I was on plane. The boat pushed forward and I was gliding across the water with the wind pushing my hat back and a big smile on my face. I had forgotten how much pleasure this boat gave me and I leaned back on my seat with satisfaction. I passed up common dolphins, pelicans dive bombing bait with some terns and dopey sea lions resting on the surface. All the time C-level never hesitated and twenty or so miles later I reached one of my favorite spots.
I suited up and grabbed one of my spearguns and dropped over and loaded up the bands. There was a bit of bait in the water and I saw schools of opaleye crushing around. The wind had stirred up the water quite a bit and the visibility was pretty bad, still I could see at least 12 feet or so. As I was coming up from the bottom I was surprised that above me was a 30 lb white seabass gliding by, it was so close I could see the individual scales and long line along it’s vent. It was so close in fact that I could not swing the gun without hitting it, as I tried to gently turn it the fish sensed my presence and boomed away. I rose to the surface and took in some air, at the least I knew there were fish around! I made a few more drops and maybe five minutes later came across two sitting in the kelp, the bigger of the two began to turn and as the second fish turned I squeezed the trigger and sent the 5/16″ shaft hurtling through it. The fish ran a bit and then tied up in the shallow water, I followed my bright floatline and found it and dispatched it. The fish now hung from my belt and I made my way back to my boat.
I climbed back in and put the fish in my fish bag with two jugs of solid ice. What a day! The fish was small, maybe 15 or 18 pounds but it would make a fine dinner and my friends are always glad to get some fresh fish. I pulled the anchor and clicked the key, again the motor fired up without a hitch and in a few moments I was pounding the swell on the way back to the docks. The sun was warm, my boat was humming, and I had a nice fish in the bag, it was turning out to be quite a day! I think the most satisfying part was that I had saved myself thousands of dollars by chatting with friends and wrenching on my own motor, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that even though I had spent hours chasing that gremlin. I still have the leak down compression problem to fix but at the least the boat is running strong. I lovingly ran my hands over the stainless steering wheel and throttle while grinning ear to ear. Man did I miss that boat!
Fish beware, C-level has risen from the ashes and is thirsty for blood…
Another C-level causalty
An older pix of C-Level circa 2010